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January – 2016 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

January 2016

Ski Trip Tips

I’ve been on a bit of a travel-related post kick lately, with posts on Texas road trips, a Hurst, Texas staycation… and now tips for taking the perfect ski trip.

The Ken Garff dealership had a promo recently for getting ski passes, so I was inspired to write about ski trip planning – I hope these tips will be helpful for you as you plan any spring getaways!

  • Make a list (and check it twice). There’s gear you need for skiing, and you want to make sure you come equipped. You’ll need skis, poles, goggle, a helmet, boots, gloves, a ski jacket, pants, and more.
  • Be an early bird. If you’re renting gear instead of bringing your own, reserve everything ahead of time online or  be sure and get to the store as early as possible to beat the lines and get first dibs on what you need. Get to the slopes early, too, and avoid fighting for a parking spot.

For more tips on planning your perfect ski trip, visit my guest post on the Ken Garff dealership blog.

Save Money on Gas with These Apps

I love saving money. I think the name of this blog along probably belies that fact! Whether it’s using coupons when grocery shopping, finding clearance deals for clothes, or looking for the best price on gasoline for our car, I’m all about ways to save.

As we all know, there are apps for virtually everything now, and so it only makes sense that there are apps out there for helping you save money on gas. Have you been missing out? Now you’ll know all about several great apps to try. Here’s one:

  • Cheap Gas shows you just that – cheap gas. This app is pretty straightforward, giving you a list of stations in price order (lowest price first). You can view the map to figure out how to get to your desired gas station from your current location.

For more apps to try, visit my guest post over on the Holt Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram dealership blog.

Staycation: Hurst, Texas

I wrote yesterday about road trip ideas for Texas – there are so many places you can go around the state that make for a great weekend or week-long trip. Of course, you don’t always even have to leave your city to have a great vacation! I wrote a guest post for the Holt Fiat of Hurst dealership blog all about how to have a staycation in Hurst. If you live in the DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth) area, I hope these ideas can help you have a fun weekend with your family:

  • Get in some culture and see a play at the Artisan Center Theater – this is a great spot for couples and families to enjoy.

For more ideas of things to do, check out my post on the Holt Fiat of Hurst blog!

Three Texas Road Trip Ideas

My family and I love to take road trips – and living in Texas, we have a lot of options as far as places to go. Texas is a huge state, of course; you could go to west to El Paso or east to Tyler, north to Amarillo or south to Houston.

If you’re one of my Texas readers, or if you’d like to do some Texas travel, you’re in luck – here are some ideas for places to go and things to do:

  • Waco: Roughly 90 minutes away from Dallas/Fort Worth, this city has gained popularity recently due to a popular show on HGTV. People are flocking to Magnolia Market, and it’s a fun stop for shopping – and dining, too. The store sits alongside a plot of land that houses food trucks and benches with tables, and a big patch of faux grass for kids to run and play. You can visit the Cameron Park Zoo for a less-crowded animal-viewing experience, stop by the Dr. Pepper museum, enjoy a stroll across the suspension bridge, and even take the kids to see a real mammoth excavation site.

Read more about Texas road trip destinations in my guest post on the Holt Fiat of Fort Worth dealership blog.

Make Mornings Easier

Our mornings are always busy. Between getting the kids ready, making lunches, taking the dogs out, making breakfast, and finally getting ourselves ready, we end up rushing around most weekdays. We’ve talked about shifting tasks around so that there’s less to do in the morning, and here are some great ideas for things you can do to make your mornings less stressful – we’ll be trying some of them ourselves!

Check out What to Do in the Evenings to Make Your Mornings Easier

by Tend Editor at Mode

Sofia the First Cookies

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I mentioned earlier this month that we’ve started something new in our house – we’re scheduling dates with each of our kids using this chart. We rotate months so that Brian and I each get one-on-one time with the kids, and we also get time together as a family doing a specific activity.

For January I had a date with J, Brian had a date with C, and E got to pick a family activity for us to all do together. She chose – very specifically, I might add – that we would all make Sofia the First cookies. We don’t own Sofia the First cookie cutters, so we had to get creative. I also wanted to keep things simple, because this has been a busy month for us and I just didn’t have the energy to do anything too time-intensive.

Right off the bat I knew we’d need to make these cookies purple. Sofia’s dress is purple, and E is all about purple right now. We found a great sugar cookie recipe on allrecipes.com and followed it pretty directly, only modifying it to add a bit of purple food coloring.


Next, we had to figure out how to make these cookies look Sofia the First-ish. We don’t own princess-themed cookie cutters, but guess what kind of cookie cutters work perfectly for a Sofia theme? Easter cookie cutters! Our set included a rabbit face and profile (who doesn’t love Clover the rabbit on Sofia, right? You’ve got to include him! Blue Ribbon Bunny was a favorite episode of E’s for several weeks), a butterfly (these have been present in many Sofia episodes, specifically Princess Butterfly) and two different flowers (Sofia and friends spend lots of time in the garden – we mentioned Vivian’s enchanted garden at her new castle, seen in All the Sprite Moves and E agreed flowers were perfect to include.



Continue Reading…

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam 3DS Game Review

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My husband is the ultimate Nintendo fan, with a collection including hundreds of games dating back to his childhood and the NES era.  Since he has had experience playing Mario games for decades, he eagerly agreed to review the advance copy we received of Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, which releases today. Thanks for guest posting, Brian!



Hi everyone! As Christi mentioned, I’ve been playing Mario games most of my life, and always get excited for the latest game release. When I think of Mario games, I divide them into several categories; some are platformers, like the classic Super Mario Bros. – your character’s main goal is to get to the end of each level. Some are party games, like the aptly named Mario Party, which include party games and challenges that are fun to play with your family and friends (this is a favorite of our family on game nights!). And some are RPG (role playing games)-based, which means there’s an emphasis on character development and more tactic-based battles.


Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam falls into the latter category, and to me it’s a great fusion of the Paper Mario games and Mario & Luigi game series. Like most Mario games it starts out with Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach, and you play as Mario to rescue her.

This time, though, you’re dealing with double the trouble, thanks to Luigi unleashing Paper Mario characters into the 3D world.


Continue Reading…

Raspberry Lime Sorbet: Mini Chef Mondays

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Hi all! If you saw my post last week, you know we’re already thinking about Valentine’s Day around here. This week’s recipe is another great sweet treat perfect for February 14 – and beyond. I’ve got to give credit for the idea to Brian – when I was brainstorming for this week’s post, he immediately thought raspberry sorbet would be perfect. I decided to add lime in to the mix because I think the two flavors are great together. And this raspberry lime sorbet just has four ingredients!

Sorbet is a perfect dessert to pair with a Valentine’s Day meal, which can often be heavy. It’s light and bright, and this combination of raspberry and lime is sure to wake up your taste buds!

Raspberry Lime Sorbet


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups raspberries
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice



  1. Get out a large pot, and add your raspberries. Be sure you buy more than 4 cups if your little helper plans to eat a few a ton.
  2. Add the sugar, water, and lime juice, then stir.
  3. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the raspberries have softened a bit.
  4. Use your immersion blender to mix everything up until it’s a smooth liquid. If you don’t like seeds, you’ll want to run this mixture through a fine strainer, but we don’t mind them at all, so we keep them in.
  5. Once the mixture has cooled for about 10 minutes, pour it into your ice cream maker and let it run for about 45 minutes.
  6. Let the sorbet set up in the freezer for 3 hours or overnight, then serve!

Step-By-Step Photo Instructions:

Get your raspberries ready – and while I’m thinking of it, if you’ve got a little helper like I do, you might want to get a good step stool for the kitchen. We found ours at IKEA, but there are some on Amazon too that are nice. E loves being up at counter height to help out!


Continue Reading…

Homemade Soft Pretzels with Beer Cheese Dipping Sauce

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Back when Brian and I were still newly married, making homemade soft pretzels was one of our first forays outside of our cooking comfort zone. We hadn’t really ever cooked with yeast before, and for some reason the idea of making pretzels from scratch seemed like it would be a challenge. A fun challenge, though – and we decided to go for it. We were successful on our first attempt, and pretty pleased with ourselves. The pretzels were really good! And then we didn’t make again them for another seven years. Crazy, right? Life just sometimes gets in the way of pretzel-making, friends. Then one day a few months back we were at Central Market – because when we visit Fort Worth, we have to stop at Central Market; it’s essential, y’all – and we bought a mix for making pretzels. The mix was decent, but we remembered how much better the pretzels were from scratch, so we got back in the kitchen just a couple of days later to make a homemade batch of pretzels. SO. MUCH. BETTER. The best part? It really is an easy process, albeit one with several steps. Once you make the dough (recipe below!) you’ll want to divide it into eight fairly even pieces. We’re slightly perfectionistic, apparently, and we like to get out our food scale to make it pretty accurate, but you can totally just eyeball it.


Then, as you can see above, we roll the dough out into a long rope, 24? long. We set out the tape measure to make sure we’re getting the dough to the right length, because you want an ample amount to work with for the twist and we like the pretzels to be fairly uniform. Continue Reading…

Wolfgang Puck’s Homemade Potato Chips and Blue Cheese Dip Recipe

Thanks to Wolfgang Puck for sharing this great recipe for y’all! This would be a perfect snack for a Super Bowl party, don’t you think? By the way, this and many more recipes can be found as video lessons presented by Wolfgang in his new cooking school, WolfgangPuckCookingSchool.com.

Wolfgang Puck’s Homemade Potato Chips with Blue Cheese Dip

Serves 12

Making your own potato chips fresh at home will really impress your guests. It’s incredibly easy with a thermostat-controlled deep fryer. I find a mandoline is the fastest, easiest way to get uniform thin slices. A quickly made blue-cheese dip is the perfect accompaniment.


Potato Chips:

  • 1 1/2 pounds baking (Idaho) potatoes
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • kosher salt

Blue Cheese Dip:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 pound blue cheese crumbled
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Continue Reading…

Burt’s Bees New Lipsticks Give You 100% Natural Beauty

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Burt’s Bees for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’ve loved Burt’s Bees lip balm for years; it’s a staple in my purse. My husband uses it, and my kids do too. In fact, Burt’s Bees has been a brand we love for a long time. I feel good about the natural ingredients used in its products, and that’s hard to find nowadays. They stay true to a simple – and great – idea: what you put on your body should be made from ingredients you can spell and pronounce.

They have more than 150 products for almost every part of your lips, hair and skin, with a mission is to make people lives better everyday, naturally. We’ve used their baby products on all three of our kids, all because they’re a brand we truly trust. I love knowing that Burt’s Bees is natural at its core, and that gives me confidence in using their products for myself and for my whole family.

And now there’s another product from Burt’s Bees I can love: new Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lipsticks deliver luscious, bold color you’ll love, along with naturally moisturizing ingredients that love your lips in return.

The lipsticks have a smooth, satin finish and 14 versatile shades. They soften and condition lips all day long, thanks to a natural formula featuring Beeswax, Moringa Oil and Raspberry Seed Oil. They provide a creamy and lightweight coverage that doesn’t feel heavy like many other lipsticks. And they’re 100% natural, which makes me feel good about wearing it all day.

Burt’s Bees lipsticks are available at Target, and I went to ours to pick up a few shades for myself. I decided to get two very different colors and see what I thought of each. I purchased this darker red shade, called Scarlet Soaked:

Continue Reading…

Chocolate & Sprinkle-Coated Shortbread Cookies – Mini Chef Mondays

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If you’ve walked in Target lately you’ve probably noticed the overabundance of pink in the store right now (which my daughter thinks is perfection, by the way. You can never have too much pink!), and although Valentine’s Day is still over a month away it’s definitely been on my mind. We don’t do a lot for the holiday, but we’ll plan valentines for classmates, something little to do for each of the kids, and Brian and I usually do something small for each other, too.

In thinking about Valentine’s Day, I was brainstorming some fun dessert ideas for the inevitable class parties and thought these chocolate & sprinkle coated shortbread cookies would be really perfect. They’re pretty adorable, they’re delicious, and they’re not messy to eat like cupcakes. They’re also really easy – and fairly quick – to make, which earns HUGE points in my book!

I typically have one of the kiddos help me with my Mini Chef Mondays posts, but this was a very busy weekend and I’ll admit that I made these cookies at about 12:15 this morning. SO, I’ve included a collage of my kiddos with the cookies, because they’ll end up being the primary consumers!



  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips


  1. Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together.
  2. Add in the salt and mix well.
  3. Mix in the flour until everything is well-combined.
  4. Add water sparingly until your dough starts to come together.
  5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Roll your dough out to about 1/2″ thick, and use cookie cutters to achieve your desired shape – hearts are perfect for Valentine’s Day!
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees until your cookies are golden.
  8. Once the cookies have cooled, dip them in chocolate, adding sprinkles if you’d like!


As always, I am hosting Mini Chef Mondays along with 11 fabulous bloggers!

Be sure to check out each of their Mini Chef posts as well. We would love it if you would share your Mini Chef posts with us each week, too! Follow along socially and join in on the fun by using our hashtag #MiniChefMondays to share creations your mini chef created in the kitchen. Additionally, if you have a kid-friendly recipe that kids can easily recreate link up! Don’t have a blog? Share the URL of your instagram photo in our linky below.

  1. Easy Fruit Salad Recipe for Valentine’s Day // Courtney’s Sweets
  2. Red Velvet Waffles // Momma Lew
  3. Homemade Cherry Banana Ice Cream // Baby Loving Mama
  4. Peanut Butter Cheesecake Overnight Oats // We’re Parents
  5. Chocolate & Sprinkle Coated Shortbread Cookies // Frugal Novice
  6. Best Lactation Cookies Recipe // Eating Richly
  7. Brown Bag Microwave Popcorn // Giggles, Gobbles and Gulps
  8. Chicken & Broccoli Quesadilla // Step Stool Chef
  9. Farro with Roasted Vegetables // Vegging at the Shore
  10. Chocolate Strawberry Puppy Chow // Mom’s Messy Miracles
  11. Healthy Ambrosia Salad // O’Boy! Organic
  12. Cinnamon Sugar Dessert Preussens // Can’t Google Everything